This past week I went bicycling on the Virginia Creeper trail. It was a blast of a day trip. I woke up at six, carpooled with Danielle at seven, and then spent the day riding up to the trail. We arrived at a cute little bike shop and road up the winding path with an old bus driver who told us all about his grandchildren and great grandchildren. The drive took about a half hour, then we began our trek down. The weather had fooled us, so we were a bit colder, causing us to layer up and for me to use Danielle’s extra socks as gloves (Hey, I mean whatever works, right?). We road our bikes in the cold and stopped a few times to warm up our frigid toes. We survived on Fig Newton’s (the only restaurant on the path was closed) and luckily only had my chain pop off once. It was a long journey, which took us around three-ish hours as opposed to the half our ride up, but the journey was worth it. I think the same is true in our own lives. God gives us desires and passions in our hearts to do amazing things, but the journey can often seem to be never ending, but there is a purpose in our journey. The long journey is worth the wait because God shapes who we are in moments of wandering.
I think about the Israelites after their newfound freedom. Moses walked through trial and tribulation to free God’s people, and they were finally on their way to the Promised Land. The thing is, it took them over forty years to get there! During this time, many times they wanted to give up or go back to where they came. So often this is true for us, we struggle during the journey and we want to give up on the passions in our heart or pick up the chains that once enslaved each of us. We need to break free, to press on, and see the power that is held within the journey. I’ve been writing this blog for a little over two years. I’ve been in school for most of my life. I serve as a volunteer in ministry. I have dreams of writing and helping the next generation unlock their potential. I have been in the process of wandering for a while. I thought about this while on the trail in the cold, it would have been so silly to just stop on the path or to retread the old path in order to go back, because the end was worth the wait and the process allowed me to see the beauty of God. Today I want to simply talk about the journey being worth it, because to be honest, the journey is hard, and I am writing this for you as much as I am for me.
Worship in the wandering.
One of the hardest things to do is worship when it feels like you have no direction. You’ve been working so hard and yet you haven’t seen the fruit of your labor. I’ve been writing for two years and I haven’t had enormous amounts of web traffic as I selfishly would want. I’ve been in school in communication studies and I understand how people work and communicate, but the path from using this into a thing I can provide for a future family for can be tough. The path isn’t always clear, it’s unknown, and that’s where God moves. Right now I have a job that I like to think of as fundraising for what I actually want to do; I want to write and be a next generation family pastor. These are my vision, the thing God placed on my heart, but he is preparing me for those roles. I’m not a next gen family pastor, I have a job coming out of college that really just gives me what I need to live on, fundraising for what I really want to do. I want to be a writer, so each week I practice and share what God is teaching me to teach you. I am choosing to worship my creator even as I wander in the unknowns of life. We all have to choose worship, every day we need to choose to pick up our cross and follow him.
Growth in the groaning.
Much of our journey is hard work. You don’t enter into the promise land without first traversing the desert. The path is difficult and will make you work for your dreams, and every dream requires work. No dream simply happens overnight, and if it does, you still have to work to keep it being a reality. Will it be hard? Just ask the Israelites, many of them didn’t live to see the promise land, but they made it. We have to give trust in God and put in the work along the journey. There will be pushback, people will say you can’t, but God says I can. People will try to say you’re not good enough, but God says he is all we need. There will be groaning in your life, days where you’ll wake up and say, “ugh.” The thing is, God is molding you in this time. He is growing a new attitude and mindset in you through the hard work, and he will give you all you need to make it through.
Remember to rejoice.
We are powerless to achieve our passions alone. We are powerless to do anything without living dependently on Christ. We need to focus on him in all things, trusting him with everything, and that will bring him praise. I haven’t made it to the destination yet, my journey is still going, but as success comes my way, I will rejoice. When hardship and failure come my way, I will rejoice. In all things, rejoice. God is shaping you for your dreams, but he is shaping your dreams for his kingdom. He wants you to be a disciple of all people, building the kingdom. None of it is for our glory, it is all for his glory. Shift your mind from focusing on how to use God in your life and start focusing on how God can use your life. Everything is to give him praise, so rejoice. Rejoice in the good, the bad, and the long journey. Always rejoice.
On a cold day, where the journey was long, God spoke to me. He spoke to me in my time of waiting. Waiting for doors to be open, people to see me as a writer and a future pastor, my time of fundraising, and in my daily walk. I think God wants to enter into your journey too. I think you have a dream and feel discouraged, there’s nothing worse to see someone that has given up on a dream God gave them, and I want you to know that God hasn’t left. He is always there, and though the journey is long, God is preparing you for the Promised Land. Don’t quit, don’t turn back to your old self, God has made you a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come.
So stand strong and keep moving forward, because the long journey is worth the wait.